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How do I Become a Medical Librarian?

Article Details
  • Written By: Judith Smith Sullivan
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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To become a medical librarian, you need to have a degree in library science, or information science, concentrating in medical services. You must also complete an internship in a medical library and then find and apply for a position as a medical librarian. Although there are bachelor's degrees in library science, to have the best qualifications, you will need to obtain a master's degree as well.

You do not need an undergraduate degree in library science to pursue a master's degree. Many individuals have backgrounds in other areas and still receive graduate degrees in information science. Since information science degree programs offer a variety of concentrations, from data system and web page design to book binding and public reference work, master's degree programs in library science attract individuals from many different academic backgrounds.

If you have not completed your undergraduate degree, but are sure you want to be a medical librarian, take as many medically related classes as possible. You may even wish to get your undergraduate degree in a health care or allied heath care field before becoming a medical librarian. As a medical librarian, you will be dealing with medical personnel and information on a daily basis. At the very least, take biology, anatomy, and physiology classes at the undergraduate level.

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You will have to apply to graduate library and information science programs to become a medical librarian. Part of the application requirements are your graduate record examination (GRE) scores. Check your school's admission guidelines for minimum score requirements, but certainly, try to score as high as possible when you take the test.

Many admission applications require an essay on your career goals. Typically, you discuss why you want to be a medical librarian and how the graduate program will help you realize that goal. Admissions committees want to know if you are a serious and dedicated student who will become an active member of their student community. Clearly stating your goals and your enthusiasm for the field will help them understand that you are a good candidate.

You will be required to take 36-60 credit hours of courses. Typically, only doctoral or master's students with more than one concentration have to take more than 36 credit hours. The first courses discuss the basic theories and philosophies behind information technology. Other required courses include cataloguing and indexing, ethics, management, and research methods. After taking these core classes, you can pursue courses that focus on your concentration.

During your last semester as an information science student, it is advisable for you to complete an internship. These are typically 12 to 16 weeks long, and the best internship will be in a medical library. if that is unavailable, complete an internship in another type of library. The experience will not only give you valuable hands-on experience in the information science profession, it will also be a good addition to your resume and increase your chances to become a medical librarian.

After you graduate, you must apply for a position as a librarian in health services to become a medical librarian. As a highly specialized field, medical librarian jobs are not very common, and you may have to relocate to find one. Most job applications will ask for letters of recommendation along with a current resume. Your professors are good sources for recommendations, but be sure to ask their permission before providing their contact information to a potential employer.

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